Some notes on noseriding…technique

So, now that you know why noseriding is possible it’s time to learn how. Obviously you start by having the right equipment, here the choices are pretty wide…any longboard will do. (Please keep in mind that the remainder of this discussion pertains to LB.) You’ve probably noticed by now that you turn a LB from the tail, but need to move forward in order to keep up with the speed of the wave. (note: Failing to move forward after turning usually causes the board to stall, and board and rider are soon overtaken by whitewater. This is a common mistake by novices, who erroneously blame their board for being too slow.) You’ve probably also noticed that the faster the wave is breaking, the further up towards the nose you need to be to keep up with it. Most surfboards have a spot somewhere along the length where all of the many curves of the bottom, rails and outline converge to provide maximum planing speed. On a LB this spot is usually just forward of center.
As a wave rises from swell and begins to pitch over, water rushes up the face. The speed of water moving up the face is greater as you get closer to the pocket (that spot 2 foot or so just in front of the spot where the lip has just pitched over.) You are going to utilize this upward flow of water to support your weight, so this where we want to get to. There are two basic ways of getting to this spot:
  1.  While in trim I maneuver my board to the upper third of the face by weighing the wave-side rail. Simultaneously, I move forward just enough to stay up with the speed of the wave, ideally just ahead of the pitching lip. So, my movement is towards the nose while weighing the wave-side or inside rail. I want the nose of the board to be heading upward as I move forward. This is important because it will keep me from pearling. If I get too high on the wave face, I un-weigh the rail either by slightly shifting my weight to my heels [regular-foot going right] or to my toes [goofy-foot going right]. I must keep the board in the upper third of the face where the force of the water flowing up the face will help to support my weight. Any lower and I may pearl/any higher and I may inadvertently pull-out or get pitched over by the lip.
    This is a good approach for learning the basic technique. A rider can gradually get the feel for trimming the board in the upper third of the wave while in a position forward of center. As you move closer to the nose, you’ll develop more confidence in the ability of your board to support your weight without pearling. But remember, you can’t make full or radical turns from this position. You can and should learn to make the subtle adjustments in direction that will allow you to stay in the steeper, upper-third of the wave. Focusing on the steepness of the wave just ahead of you, un-weigh the rail as the face flattens, causing the board to slow down a bit. As the breaking wave catches up to you and the face steepens in front of you again, weight is once more applied to the inside rail. This process is repeated indefinitely until the wave either closes-out or becomes so flat that you are forced to move backward to the tail and cut-back.
  2. Once you are comfortable moving to the nose from a forward trim position you’re ready for a more advanced maneuver. This maneuver starts with a good bottom turn after the initial drop-in. The radius of the bottom turn and the speed of the turn are timed to coincide with the speed of the wave. If the wave is particularly slow-moving I may want to “fade” or turn back towards the peak as I take-off.  This is just an opportunity to stall a little while the wave face steepens in the direction I ultimately want to go. Then I turn back, drop-in, and do my bottom-turn. In either case, as I come off the bottom, I hold the turn until I’m heading back up the face. My target is a spot just ahead of the pocket. As I head up the face, I start my move to the nose. Again, timing is of the essence. I want the nose to rising up the face before I move forward, and I want to be on the nose at precisely the same time that my board enters the upper third of the wave.  Piece of cake, right?

When learning to noseride, I recommend staying up on the nose as long as possible, even to the point of wipeout. It’s the best way you can learn the limits of your equipment, and you may be pleasantly surprised at how long you can be fully committed on the nose. I also recommend getting to the nose anyway you can, e.g. shuffle, skip, leap even. While “cross-stepping” to the nose is better stylistically, learning to “cross-step” is just about as difficult as learning to noseride. Save that for another time. Watch as many videos of surfers like Joel Tudor, Alex Knost and Jimmy Gamboa noseriding and pay attention to where their board is on the wave. Study the timing of their movements. Notice how the water flows over the tail and under the board. Then, get out in the water and try it!

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